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Posts Tagged ‘Miss Management’

Title: MISS MANAGEMENT
Author: Traci Highland
Publisher: Cheshire Lane Press
Pages: 215
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Mags has gotten herself in a ton of trouble: she’s lost her job, any hope for references, and she’s going to run out of money…. fast.

Yeah, sure, it may be her fault for punching her boss, but the jerk totally had it coming.

Nobody listens to her until she reaches her boiling point, and by then, well, she’ll admit that there’s no stopping Mr. Fist To The Face.

Now her years of hard work as a speech therapist are about to go down the drain unless she can find some way to salvage her career. So when her Aunt Elise calls to say that she has a job for her, it’s not like she can say no, even if the job is up in the wilds of Vermont.

Between stuffed moose, sloppy dogs and sexy men, Vermont proves to be a lot more interesting than she expected. But when she uncovers a scheme that would put her new employers’ livelihood in jeopardy, more than just hydrangea bushes are about to get squashed.

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First Chapter

Nothing says Happy Friday like having Mr. Roth dribble crackers and sing La Cucaracha.  Nothing.

“Great job!  But let’s make sure to give those crackers an exaggerated swallow before the next stanza.  All right?”  I grab the paper cloth from the box and give his chin a wipe.

He stares at me with rheumatic eyes, pushing his whole damn heart into his smile.

“Your smile always makes my day, Mr. Roth.”  I pick the last remnant of saltine out of his gray stubble and throw the paper towel into the garbage.  When Mr. Roth first came to see me, the stroke had paralyzed the left side of his face.  The paralysis had diminished somewhat and now he can do things like smile.  And sing.  Sort of.

At least we fixed the swallowing.  That’s a biggie.  He exhales a barely audible bar of his favorite song and I join him.  “Make it louder for me!  La cucaracha!  La cucaracha!  Ya no puede caminar…”

His smile widens and his voice rises, like a phoenix, dammit.  That asshat Dr. Robbins said he’d never speak again.  And here Mr. Roth is, six months later, singing.

Days like this, I love my job.  Just as we’re about to finish up our session, Dolly pokes her head in the door. “I’m sorry, Mags, but Dr. Robbins says you’re going to have to keep it down.”

“Tell him to shut his damn door.”  That man exists to be the pain in my neck.  You know the pain, the one you wake up with every morning and no amount of Advil can kill?  That one.

“Was I too loud?”  Mr. Roth asks, worry crossing his cherubic, drooly face.

“No, angel.  Not a bit.  You’re a rock star and I’m damn proud of you.” One day I am going to open my own clinic, so naysayers like Dr. Robbins can learn to shut the hell up.

Dr. Robbins, the asshat, runs the clinic. So naturally, he feels that everything in the office is his, too, like, you know, the pretty nurses and speech pathologists that he employs.

Grabbing Mr. Roth’s arm, I help him with his jacket.  Dolly clicks the pen in her hand like it’s a hand grenade.  On off, on off, on off.

“Stop it,” I hiss to her as I grab Mr. Roth’s gloves.  “Now keep practicing those scales we talked about and I’ll see you next week.”

He squeezes my hand and then says to Dolly, “She’s a saint, this one.  A regular saint.”

His r’s don’t come out quite right but hey, it’s a work in progress.

The second he’s out the door, I walk over to the nurses’ station and pull up the electronic records on my next patient. I haul on down to room number six, where Mr. Earle is waiting for me to re-adjust his tracheal tube.

I reach for the handle and I’m blindsided by Susie, the intern.  She’s the best kind of intern, hard-working and wicked smart, and rather pretty in a cute, slightly disheveled kind of way.  She’s shaking as she bumps into me, wiping tears from her eyes.

“What’s wrong?” There can be lots of things wrong when you’re twenty-one.  Hormones and boozing and all that, but this looks… different.

“Nothing, I’m fine. Tracheal tube, right?”  She straightens her Hello Kitty scrubs and adjusts the chunky black-rimmed glasses, making sure the floating strands of pinkish hair stay behind her ears.

I open my mouth but the words just sort of dry up.  Sometimes, it’s best just to leave it.  She knows I’m here—prodding would be rude, right?  Let her tell me when she’s ready, or not, her choice.  Besides, I’m running behind.

Susie and I wrestle Mr. Earle’s tube back where it belongs and the second we finish and leave the room, Susie’s face pales.

Dr. Robbins is standing in the hall, blocking the path between where we stand and the nurses’ station.

He looks up at Susie and gives her a grin that turns my stomach into a rolling pool of bile and fire. His yellowish, crooked teeth and greasy hair make him look more like a Goodfellas reject than a doctor.  But hey, it could just be that I’m biased because he told me once that he hired me for my boobs.

Not my stellar resume.  Not my incredible grades that I worked by butt off to earn, but because he liked my boobs.

I wanted to quit right then and there.  To stand up and shout and sue and do all those noble things I would tell my sisters to do if they were in the same situation.

But yeah, I had just gotten divorced and needed the job.  Nothing like having to buy your cheating ex out of half of your own damn house.

So the words disappeared and I sort of just resorted to sending politely worded emails, like “Please remember to interact with the staff in a professional manner.” And “I believe we are due for the state-mandated sexual harassment prevention course.  Can I sign us up?”

Susie freezes beside me.  Her cheeks turn to scrambled eggs and she grabs my hand.  “Don’t let him touch me again.”  She whispers.

Again?  Touch her?  My vision blurs.  Like actually blurs as he walks towards us.  That creep. That stupid, sexist creep.  He touched her?  She’s just a child.  Mostly.  Practically.  Hell, it doesn’t matter how old she is!  He’s a monster.

Dr. Robbins sidles over and his snakelike tongue pokes in and out of his mouth as his eyes roam over Susie.  “Susan, do you know where the canned peaches are?  I need to use them for a videofluoroscopy this afternoon.”  He leans in closer to her and she clenches my hand as his chili taco breath assaults us. “Maybe you can show me in the supply closet?”

She shakes like a shake weight in those cheesy late-night infomercials.  “No.” Her voice is barely above a whisper, but I can hear her just fine.

He, however, moves closer.  “Stop,” I say.  As usual, my words do nothing. No one listens, dammit.  Again and again and again I’ve asked him to stop doing this.

“Stop,” I say again, louder.

He just moves on in closer, like I’m nothing more than a lamp.

That’s when I see it.  He reaches down and grabs her ass.  She jumps and he smiles.  “Get off.”  She hisses but he doesn’t listen, he never listens.  He cups her whole cheek now, grinning.

I punch him in the face.

His head slams back, blinking like, well, like I just punched him in the face.

Oh crap.

Did I really just punch my boss in the face?

My fingertips chill and my hand aches.

I didn’ttell me I didn’t.

Susie gasps, her hands covering her mouth and a look of unadulterated panic in her eyes. My throat tightens.

Oh my God, I totally did.

“She asked you to stop.” It’s the only thing that leaves my mouth in a somewhat coherent fashion.

He narrows his eyes, a large red bump creeping across his smarmy face. “You hit me!”

Susie, her jaw now on the ground, looks at me. Her eyes are wide and frightened like a deer’s.  Her voice is flat when she says, “You punched him.”

I kind of hate deer.

“Yes!  Yes, I see that.  You’re fine, right, Dr. Robbins?  You should have stopped.  We all know you can’t go around grabbing asses like they’re doorknobs. But you just kept grabbing and squishing it around so I had to, had to—“

“You’re fired.”  He growls.

“You can’t!”

“Get out, Miss Anderson.  Get out now before I call the police.”

Well, damn.

About the Author

Traci Highland writes funny books for sassy ladies.  She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and has a Master’s from Quinnipiac University.  She uses this education to write books, bake cakes, garden and make homemade jams.  Her children say she’s bossy, her husband says she’s high-maintenance, but the dog thinks she’s perfect.

Her latest book is the romantic comedy, Miss Management.

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